Black widows slip lax biosecurity web

The discovery of black widow spiders in imported grapes highlights once again the Government’s lax attitude to biosecurity risks, Labour’s Primary Industries and Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“MPI officials are trying to talk down the find, saying the spiders don’t pose a danger to the horticultural industry.

“I’m assuming they are taking the proverbial. Certainly there might be more sniffer dogs at airports to check baggage, but there’s clearly insufficient scrutiny of commercial and container imports.

“If black widows can get through then it is every bit as feasible that something more sinister, such as the glassy-winged sharpshooter, could as well. And that would wreak havoc for our wine growers.

“The fact is these spiders entered the country through MPI’s ‘usual channels’, which may or may not have included fumigation. That is hardly a robust system.

“Nathan Guy should put a halt on all similar grape imports until MPI can assure the New Zealand wine industry and New Zealand consumers that imported grapes are safe to eat and our wine industry is not at risk from another failure of our biosecurity system,” Damien O’Connor says.